High supply of natural gas expected to keep prices low

Atmos Energy, which last month reduced the price of natural gas to residential and commercial customers, said Wednesday its prices are expected to remain low all winter.

“The price of natural gas is market-driven,” Atmos spokesman Brian Martens said Wednesday. “Prices can fluctuate, but they appear stable for the foreseeable future.”

Atmos income accrues from its services – building and maintaining distribution systems, delivering gas and billing, Martens said. The firm doesn’t charge for the gas itself, but it increases or decreases price in response to what its suppliers charge, he said.

Price increases or decreases basically are a pass-through, he said. Changes must be approved by the Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the utility’s rate of return.

As of Nov. 1, the rate for 100 cubic feet of gas dropped from 48 to 47 cents for Atmos residential customers. The rate per 100 ccf fell from 44 to 43 cents for commercial customers.

A price decrease in April cut the rate 18 percent for residential customers. The price of commercial gas fell 19 percent.

“Natural-gas supplies are higher than normal, which means continued reliable delivery,” Gary Gregory, president of the Atmos Colorado-Kansas division, said in a statement. “We are ready for winter.”

Martens said consumers can lower their monthly gas bill by judicious use of energy. Caulking drafts and lowering the water-heater thermostat at night are easy-to-apply remedies, he said.

The Atmos website www.atmosenergy.com has information about payment options and an assistance program for low-income families, Martens said.

daler@durangoherald.com

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